DC Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Signed

This afternoon, “The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013” was signed by the mayor after being approved by the city council in a 10 to 1 vote. This measure amends the punishment for the possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000) to a civil violation (punishable by a $25 fine, no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record).

“DC has the most egregious racially disparate marijuana arrests of any city in the country,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “This measure is a great first step in ending the devastation marijuana arrests have on the city’s communities and will allow law enforcement to better allocate their resources towards more dire crimes.”

NORML commends Councilman Tommy Wells on championing the measure through the city council.

“This is a victory for the District and a victory for justice. This bill is a tremendous stride to end the disproportionate sociological and economic impact of marijuana arrests on African Americans – arrest that pull families apart and keep our residents from jobs, higher education and housing opportunities,” Councilman Tommy Wells said about the bill signing.

Due to federal oversight of the District, this measure will not officially become law until it is received by the US Congress and undergoes a period of review. This review period is likely to extend into late summer, we will update you when it has been finalized. If Congress choses not to act to overturn the measure, it becomes DC law.

22 thoughts

  1. Congratulations to everyone at NORML, Tommy Wells, and to the people of the District of Columbia. This is a remarkable achievement of many more to come.
    I still need to know; how does this affect Federal Property on the National Mall? Would the DEA even dare to police and punish “million marijuana march” or even CAN they?

  2. “If Congress chooses not to act to overturn the measure, it becomes DC law.”

    The name Bob Barr springs to mind.

  3. A positive step, but obviously not true freedom. This debate should not be couched in racial disparity, but in the fact that adults deserve choice, not restriction.

  4. “DC has the most egregious racially disparate marijuana arrests of any city in the country,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “This measure is a great first step in ending the devastation marijuana arrests have on the city’s communities and will allow law enforcement to better allocate their resources towards more dire crimes.” I seriously thought New York had a much greater minority arrest rate for small quantity marijuana related arrests due to the stop and frisk laws and racially biased (typically white) police officers who use appearance and race to profile and target minorities for this ridiculous war on U.S. citizens, not drugs. The racial disparity between the police and the minority population in NYC is insane, as not only has this been happening for well over a decade, but NYC has done little to curb their enthusiasm for arresting black boys for bud – which usually isn’t in plain sight in the first place. These cops were pulling the bags out of these kids pockets, and saying “Oh, marijuana is decriminalized in NY, but it can’t be in plain sight. You shouldn’t have pulled that out. Jail time, dude, it’s where you all belong anyway.” The system is so broken and corrupt, that it becomes brain numbing, and often hard to swallow. This is a wonderfully uplifting change to get the ball rolling in the right direction!

  5. Really??? A comment suggesting decriminalization is not an end game and that justice outweighs race gets struck? Guess we are part of the problem.
    Legalize, tax, regulate for ALL.

  6. Tommy Wells should run for President.

    It’s already April and New York’s senators have not put a bill forward to vote. I say put it up for a vote now and get our economy out of the toilet.

    Stop arresting people who use mj and consider the “gateway theory” as just another myth. Or better yet let congress answer to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. The NBCSL should kick their ass for allowing such a racially charged law continue.

  7. Recently, I heard Texas Governor Rick Perry say something about reducing the penalty for marijuana possession, so it didn’t include jail time, but, I haven’t heard anything about when or if that might actually happen. How about it Norml ? Do you guys know what the status is on that issue ?

  8. This law would be a significat advancement for the cause of marijuana legalization, since Washington D.C. is quite literally the heart of politics in the United States.

  9. I wish I could say that this whole decrim thing gave me a warm fuzzy but I doesn’t. I know its a step in the right direction, but it still feels dirty to me. The black market is still netting all the profit and a “dirty” UA will still make you jobless. Feels like a dirty step in the right direction.

  10. I’d like to be at NORML’s home office for the after-party on the day this law goes into effect!

  11. @dk,
    Unfortunately, Republicans like Rick Perry are not growing medicinal marijuana, but growing reputations for marijuana legislation with no teeth. Mississippi is only the latest example.
    Perry actually passed a broad decriminalization measure 6 years ago to say he supports it… But he never made the law enforceable. Not a single county in Texas placed the legislation into law. Contact your local Norml chapter to find out how to change this failure at the local level.
    Some pharmacuetical lobbyist must have thought it would be good p.r. to get Republicans (scared for reelection in various states) to pass virtually inaccessible m.j. legislation with only .5% thc and barely 15% cbd. This weak dose turns marijuana from panacea to placebo. It’s only available for patients with severe epilepsy. Presumably this allows Republican Congressman looking at November ballots to respond to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s ongoing investigation over the hypocritical cannabinoid neuroprotectant patent “…507“ …Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services owns the patent on cannabis while simultaneously threatening to take the children of “weed refugees” away if they dare cross the Colorado state line to visit family.
    And what is that Republican response? “We like to tease severely epileptic children and their families with inaccessable legislation using ineffective, convoluted marijuana prescriptions to death.”
    Good luck with that strategy Big Pharm Republicans; I’m sure no one will be paying attention this November when another epileptic kid dies from your evil legislation.

  12. What is the likeliness of the bill passing through congress? I don’t have time to review all members. lol.

  13. @NORML- it’s not the appropriate blog location for this but I need to say it.

    Michele Leonhart is worried about dogs? How about she puts the compassionate care of her American citizens first, and just educate the public about safe places to put their edibles. I would sacrifice a thousand family pets to bring comfort to one human cancer patient. Oh she makes me so mad.

    Sign the petition she has to go:

  14. If everyone grew and ingested oregano,cinnamon,and ginger, and ate shitake,turkey tail and other nutritional (fungi) mushrooms, our national medical bill would go down drastically. The nutritional benefits to every human life would be a healing phenomena. Cannabis is added to this equation and millions would use cannabis as replacement to many pharmaceutical drugs. Our nation the United states of America would begin to heal without Obama Care. I love the people of America and want us all to heal, and we can, just go to natural medicine and real nutrition, even using all the herbs and spices. This will heal the people of our Precious nation the USA, and the world. Well this is to easy and uncontrollable, no one can package and profit from such a loving thing to do. what will I do?
    Michael lr

  15. Just because I can grow a medicine does not give me license to us it to cause pain in peoples lives. Medicine is for my healing and healing of others god willing, not for partying with. Take the medicine to distract you from the pain, but be able to function for the blessing of others, most importantly function well for yourself. Yes I medicate with Cannabis but then I go to school and study Art and Business, and as a Junior with a 3.67 GPA. Dam I’m good. At fifty seven years of age that is not bad.
    Yes I have suffered from chronic pain since 2007 and most times it is at a level between six to eight point five. This sucks, but with some Tramadol, of which I am down, to two a day, and medicate with Cannabis as needed, I can function in my world, and yes I am getting food stamps, but this affords me the option to get an education and to give back to my world and feel really good about it. Even president of art club. Encouraging others that they have value and it is worth the effort to share your art of passion to learn, live, work, and bless others as Norml, and a better part of your lives.
    Blessing to all who suffer and have had the stress, just because you choose to medicate naturally with the simple and most effective Cannabis. And yes my Governor has heard from me and he is working on it.
    Michael lr

  16. @DesertHaze-

    This decriminalization effort in DC probably doesn’t affect you, but it will affect the thousands of DC residents whose lives have been destroyed by marijuana’s prohibition.

    Sure, we could hold out for legalization, but in the meantime, DC residents would still face serious jail time and a criminal record for a drug less harmful than alcohol. With decriminalization, this will stop.

    The thing is that legalization has huge support in DC, but DC is controlled by Congress. This is why although legalization is preferred; decriminalization is most likely to pass at the present time. Then, later on, after the federal government and MJ prohibitionists see that social fabric of DC hasn’t broken down with decriminalization; the argument for legalization will be even stronger.

    This is a step in the right direction, but it’s only one step. Yet, in the meanwhile, DC residents don’t have to worry about insane legal consequences for use of a drug less dangerous than alcohol and DC cops will have time to focus on more serious crimes. It would be foolish not to accept this outcome. But, accepting this doesn’t mean not asking for more. And don’t worry, we will.

  17. When cannabis consumers no longer need the black market drug dealers to procure their medicines, they will no longer feel the need for protecting those sources. When cannabis consumers are not subjected to draconian sentencing requirements, law enforcement may begin to earn back the respect they willingly sacrificed for the profits of confiscation.

  18. I just wish it was federal so we could get all states united again wa, co are doing great why not us why not now! Why do people have to caught up in the system for this stuff anyways.Its not fair for the people. We are good people in the community. Dont label us as criminals no more. Legalize and make freedom free

  19. Marijuana becomes decriminalized in DC, somewhat, tonight.

    But Maryland Congressman Andy Harris has offered an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriation bill voted on today to overturn that. Harris’s amendment to the Financial Services Appropriation Bill comes to the floor for a vote today.

    Delegate Norton should offer an amendment to eliminate his amendment interfering with DC’s autonomy.

    If she can’t do that, what good is the DC Democratic Party?

    This is why the D.C. Libertarian Party is recruiting and running a full slate of candidates, to offer an alternative the DC’s one party state and protect the autonomy of DC residents.

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